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CHARLIE PATTON

(1891 - 1934)

Charlie Patton was the first great Delta bluesman; from him flowed nearly all the elements that would comprise the region’s blues style.  Patton had a course, earthy voice that reflected hard times and hard living.  His guitar style - percussive and raw - matched his vocal delivery.

He often played slide guitar and gave that style a position of prominence in Delta blues.  Patton’s songs were filled with lyrics that dealt with more than mere narratives of love gone bad.  Patton often injected a personal viewpoint into his music and explored issues like social mobility (pony Blues), imprisonment (High Sheriff Blues), nature (High Water Blues), and morality (Oh Death) that went far beyond traditional male - female relationship themes.

Patton defined the life of a bluesman.  He drank and smoked excessively.  He reportedly had a total of eight wives.  He was jailed at least once.  He traveled extensively, never staying in one place for too long.

Patton’s standing in blues history is immense; no country blues artist, save Blind Lemon Jefferson, exerted more influence on the future of the form or on its succeeding generation of stylists than Patton.  Everyone from Son House, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Elmore James can trace their blues styles back to Patton.

In a since, Charlie Patton, in addition to being a bluesman of the highest caliber, might also be the first rock & roller.  Patton was far from passive when he performed in front of an audience.  It was not uncommon for him to play the guitar between his knees or behind his back.  He also played the instrument loud and rough.  Patton jumped around and used the back of his guitar like a drum.  He was a showman and made histrionics part of his act.  Patton was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980.

Robert Santelli -- The Big Book of Blues :  A Biographical Encyclopedia


1900s  / 1910s  / 1920s  / 1930s / 1940s
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MY MUSICAL LIFE
By Carl P. McConnell

Mabel McConnell talks about the Carter Family, Doc & Carl,
The Original Virginia Boys and the early days of radio.-

 


But for a few twists of fate, Atlanta could easily have grown to be the recording center that Nashville is today.Pickin' on Peachtree traces Atlanta's emergence in the 1920s as a major force in country recording and radio broadcasting, a position of dominance it enjoyed for some forty years. From the Old Time Fiddlers' Conventions and barn dances through the rise of station WSB and other key radio outlets, Wayne W. Daniel thoroughly documents the consolidation of country music as big business in Atlanta. He also profiles a vast array of performers, radio personalities, and recording moguls who transformed the Peachtree city into the nerve center of early country music. More...



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